Art

A Room Full of Suspended Memories

Sara Jimenez, "Abyssal" (2016), installation of varying dimensions. Photos by the artist, courtesy of Five Myles gallery
Sara Jimenez, “Abyssal” (2016), installation of varying dimensions, on view at FiveMyles (all photos by the artist, courtesy FiveMyles)

There is whispering in the background here, or perhaps it’s talking I can’t make out. A light, timed like my breathing, pulses. There are the smells of wood, of decaying flowers, of old things sequestered in a rusty room. Close behind is a vegetal scent, with a hint of bird dung. Cormorants were here, or other creatures like them. The room is half scented air and half shipwrecked objects suspended above the ground in woven silk nets. “Detritus” is the right word. It’s what’s left when the waters recede and you have things that are only half usable or not at all: glass jars, old shells, broken ceramics, a baby blue polystyrene cushion, telephone wires, a rope that’s unraveling, branches, dead flowers, more shells.

These things caught in nets in Abyssal at FiveMyles gallery once figured importantly in someone’s memory, even though they’ve since been cut adrift, eroded, and broken by a salty sea, then recovered and interred here. The artist Sara Jimenez stages the space in a way that represents the spaces in the mind where we keep the mental objects that are essentially shipwrecked, derelict but not abandoned. Like keepsakes that are no longer connected, no longer functioning — the vase with a crack running its entire length that cannot hold water, the stuffed doll with one good eye — they are still ours, so we hold onto them.

Another installation view of Abyssal.
Sara Jimenez, “Abyssal” (2016)

The abyssal plains at the ocean’s floor, below the continental shelves, are among the least explored areas of Earth. They are places where all the sediment and silt swirled up by the ocean’s activity settle. Just so, the accumulated impressions and recollections realized as random objects have settled into Jimenez’s silken nets, not quite at the floor — that is to say forgotten — and not rising to the surface of conscious awareness either. The soundtrack of voices consists of conversations the artists has had with family members, both living and some who have died. They too exist in this state of deferment — neither here nor there. And the nets the artist uses to hold it all together keep growing. Each weekend two performers come into the space to weave more, a lovely and lyrical poem of suspension and containment.

Sara Jimenez: Abyssal continues at FiveMyles (558 St Johns Place, Crown Heights, Brooklyn) through July 3.

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